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Inside Lausanne – the ‘best small city in the world’: There’s no graffiti, no litter – and no pushing and shoving (plus, tourists get a free public transport pass)

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Stepping out of Lausanne train station, everywhere is pristine: no graffiti, no litter, no pushing and shoving. It’s true what they say about Swiss cleanliness and efficiency.

And, on arriving at my hotel, I am offered a free pass for all public transport for the length of my stay.

This is given to everyone staying in the city for up to two weeks. Impressive. Generous, too.

I am keen to find out about Lausanne’s Olympic connections and why it has been voted ‘Best small city in the world’ by Monocle magazine – so I head down to Ouchy where the Olympic Museum is situated.

To do this I have to jump on the remote-controlled Metro which is thought to be the steepest in the world. Certainly its platform is at a precipitous angle.

Splendour: Jane Keightley travels to Lausanne in Switzerland to learn about its Olympic history. Above, the view from the Ouchy Promenade on Lake Leman

Splendour: Jane Keightley travels to Lausanne in Switzerland to learn about its Olympic history. Above, the view from the Ouchy Promenade on Lake Leman

Down in Ouchy, opposite the Marina, there are splendid views over the lake, with the French Alps in the distance.

There is even a clock ticking down the days, hours and minutes until the Olympics start in Paris on July 26.

The people of Lausanne are proud of their Olympic affiliations.

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, brought the Olympic Committee to Lausanne in 1915 and it’s housed in a grand building not far from the museum. 

After climbing the steps and passing numerous statues of athletes in action, I finally arrive at the museum entrance.

Lausanne has served as the headquarters for the Olympic Committee (pictured) since 1915

 Lausanne has served as the headquarters for the Olympic Committee (pictured) since 1915 

Pictured: Inside the city's Olympic Museum, which has displays of medals and costumes

Pictured: Inside the city’s Olympic Museum, which has displays of medals and costumes 

Even if you’re not sporty, all the different medals and costumes – especially the ones that Torvill and Dean wore to dance the Bolero to win their gold medal in 1984 – will put a spring in your step.

I head off next to Plateforme 10 which is Lausanne’s new art district. Housed in a former train yard near the station, there are three museums here, which were previously dotted around the city.

The MCBA (fine arts), MUDAC (contemporary design and applied arts) and Photo Elysee (photography) are housed in soulless modern buildings but the art and photography inside makes up for this.

There are often temporary exhibitions, which carry a charge but the permanent collections are free. Lausanne has an unusual layout.

Jane reveals that those staying in Lausanne receive a free pass for all public transport for up to two weeks

Jane reveals that those staying in Lausanne receive a free pass for all public transport for up to two weeks

The Cathedrale Notre Dame (pictured) is 'regarded as Switzerland’s finest Gothic building'

The Cathedrale Notre Dame (pictured) is ‘regarded as Switzerland’s finest Gothic building’

The city centre does not front Lake Geneva, instead it is situated high up and well back from the water’s edge and is spread over several hilltops that are linked by bridges spanning deep riverless gorges. 

The Cathedrale Notre Dame is regarded as Switzerland’s finest Gothic building.

It’s quirky. Every night between 10 pm and 2 am after the bells have struck the hour, a gloomy voice calls out from all sides of the cathedral’s tower ‘This is the night watch; the hour has struck’ – assuring anybody in the vicinity that all is well.

I don’t doubt it for a minute. All is very well indeed in this most civilised of cities.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Jane was the guest of Lausanne Tourism and stayed at the Best Western Plus Hotel Mirabeau, where double rooms start at £134 a night (mirabeau.ch). Fly to Geneva with British Airways from London Heathrow from £127 return. More information at lausanne-tourisme.ch/en/.

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